The Department of Education on Monday announced a series of civil rights investigations across five states that banned mask mandates for students. Specifically, the department will look into whether their policies were jeopardizing the rights of students who suffer from disabilities or health conditions.

In a press release, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona accused officials in Iowa, Utah, Tennessee, Oklahoma and South Carolina — all led by Republican governors — of "putting politics over the health and education of the students they took an oath to serve.” He pledged to "fight to protect every student's right to access in-person learning safely" and those of local education officials who are trying to ensure that access.

Republican governors have drawn scrutiny from some school districts for not implementing mask mandates to protect against COVID-19. Biden has sparred with Republicans, most notably Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, over the health of students at a time when the Delta variant is pushing cases higher.

Neither Florida nor Republican-led states like Texas and Arizona were included in the department’s probe. The announcement suggests that they would have been, but it noted that the anti-mask policies in these states are being currently challenged by court orders that will determine their legality.

On Friday, a court in Florida ruled against DeSantis’ executive order banning mask mandates in schools and found his decision to be “without legal authority.” In Texas, the state Supreme Court and a federal appeals court ruled against similar anti-mask orders pushed by Gov. Gregg Abbott.

The fight over mask mandates for students and vaccination mandates for educators has created plenty of hiccups just as students begin returning to classes. In New York City, teachers gathered last week to protest against vaccination mandates pushed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, while Chicago’s public school students’ return has been delayed by a shortage of bus drivers after opposition to similar mandates.

Republicans have contended that mask and vaccine mandates violate a person's freedom of choice while Democrats argue the mandates are done to protect students from infections.